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UNF School of Music performs G.F. Handel’s ‘Messiah On The Move’

The University of North Florida’s School of Music choral UNF School of Music students holding up roses while performing Messiah On The Moveprogram will perform a powerful hour-long production of “Messiah on the Move,” premiering virtually 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, on the UNF School of Music YouTube page. The program will blend Part One of Handel’s beloved masterwork with traditional spirituals and socially relevant themes of pandemic isolation, emptiness and unrest that culminates in a message of hope for peace, unity and healing.

Inspired by current events, this stunning performance cohesively presents an impactful musical and visual story blending Part One of Handel’s Messiah with three a cappella spirituals using modern themes, movement and staging filtered through an innovative contemporary lens.

Hundreds of hours of dedicated work went into the production that was conceived by Dr. Cara Tasher, UNF choral studies director, and UNF vocal arts faculty member, visual artist and director Patrick Chiu with design and choreography by Maureen McCluskey, UNF English visiting instructor. Under Tasher’s direction, three of UNF’s diverse student choral ensembles contributed their talents in collaboration with faculty soloists and UNF’s ensemble-in-residence, the Lawson Ensemble.

“These times are challenging for people all over the world,” said Chiu. “This performance emphasizes staying positive and looking for the best in the world even through so much darkness.”

UNF School of Music students performing Messiah On The Move while socially distanced inside church pewsAudio and video were recorded on UNF’s campus, Jacksonville Beach’s St. Paul’s by-the-Sea, and Palms Presbyterian Church. UNF choral leadership, student technical and production majors, UNF’s Center for Instruction and Research Technology, three local videographers and an international production team joined together to bring the performance to life on film.

Each year since 2009, the UNF choral program performs Messiah in a unique way, inspired by what is happening in the world. “This just may be the most powerful year yet,” said Tasher.